In a city that has turned out a couple of successful hip-hop artists in recent years, Pittsburgh-based Hip- Hop on L.O.C.K. (or Leadership development, Organizational skills, Cooperative economics, and Knowledge) is truly thriving. In a nutshell, it “is an arts education and mentoring program that employs hip-hop as a tool to educate and empower youth, K-12, using the aforementioned comprehensive acronym (L.O.C.K.) – applied, specifically, to the music business.

According to Beth Snyder, the group’s Program Director, “the recipe of our programming is creating partnerships with various community organizations to create “cohorts” of 7 – 10 students over a 10-week program with a goal of producing, mixing, recording, and writing their very own music project from conception to completion, accompanied with a documentary or music video”. It sounds ambitious, but Snyder assures us that, as they work with various professionals in the music industry – from photographers, graphic designers to actual musicians and producers, their enthusiasm and their skill level grow in leaps and bounds. The students are given direction in everything from math and science as they relate to work in the industry to writing and other creative endeavors.

In addition to the massive skill set that they acquire through this program, the students also participate in a “throwback” program, whereby they lend a hand to community organizations through a volunteer activity. Currently, the group conducts after school programs for Communities In Schools, Propel Schools, Pittsburgh Public Schools, Winchester Thurston, and Clairton School District. They are also partnered with UPMC, Carnegie Mellon University, The Urban League of Greater Pittsburgh, and the Central Blood Bank, to name a few organizations.

Hip-Hop on L.O.C.K. has also branched into a number of other creative endeavors, including The Waffle Wopp TV, an interactive one hour TV program that is hosted by HHOL grads, and L.O.C.K.down Radio, a one hour hip-hop radio show on Tuesdays from 7-8 pm on WRCT 88.3 FM, provides a creative platform for youth of Western Pennsylvania. The group has also been featured on PBS’s “Horizons”.

More information on HHOL can be found on YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and at www.hiphoponlock.org.